The Gannon University baseball team clinched a berth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament, winning three out of four against California (Pa.) over the weekend.
The Knights, 28-12 overall and 18-6 in the PSAC, dropped the first game to the Vulcans (32-12, 16-8) at McConnell Family Stadium on Saturday, 22-9.
They then went on to win the next three games in the series – 9-7 in Saturday’s nightcap and a sweep of Sunday’s doubleheader played at Wild Things Park in Washington, Pa., 5-2 and 11-5.
Cal U jumped on Gannon right away during the first game of the series, scoring 12 runs in the first three innings and 22 in the game. The Knights managed to score nine runs in the lopsided first game, highlighted by Ian Hess’ two-run homer.
Gannon, which has won nine of its last 12 games, has been trending upward in the PSAC West standings.
“The mood around practices has been really relaxed,” sophomore pitcher Deven Judy said of the Knights, who are tied for first place with rival Mercyhurst going into the final weekend of the regular season.
The two teams will square off four times over the weekend – twice in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Friday at Mercyhurst Baseball Field and two more times at 1 p.m. Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium.
In Saturday’s second game, the Knights won 9-7 in walk-off fashion, thanks to Hess. He blasted a home run to left field in the bottom half of the seventh for the game-winner.
The Knights had their high-powered offense on full display during the second game.
Throughout the season Judy has grown to appreciate pitching behind an offense that has the ability to push a high amount of runs across the plate.
“I am always confident that if I find myself struggling a bit in a game my offense will be there to pick me up,” said Judy.
Gannon scored six runs over the last two innings of the second game, including a four-run sixth inning.
Jared Beach got the sixth started with a solo home run. Ryan Kalbfus drove home two more runs with a bases-clearing double before the first out was even recorded.
The big sixth inning allowed Gannon to tie the game after the Vulcans scored five runs in the fifth and their half of the sixth inning.
Judy started this game on the mound, pitching five innings and allowing just one earned run. Matthew Yough threw a scoreless seventh inning and picked up his fourth win.
Eric Sapp earned his fifth win in Sunday’s 5-2 first-game win. Sapp pitched all seven innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs.
Hess put together another multiple RBI game, driving home two in the winning effort. Sapp retired nine of the last 12 Vulcan batters he faced to end the game.
Elijah Quiceno recorded a big day at the plate during Sunday’s second game.
He ended the day with four hits, two RBIs and scored three times himself.
A five-run seventh inning powered the Knights to a one-sided victory.
A Cal U throwing error helped Gannon score two of its five runs in the seventh. Justin Hamm also drove in two with a single in the seventh.
Following the four-game set with Mercyhurst Friday and Saturday, the Knights will move on to the PSAC Tournament, which will take place May 8-11 at Johnstown’s Point Stadium.